While living in Kenya, Leslie Mittelberg was amazed at the skills displayed by artisans and the vast variety of items that were sold in the community marketplace. After returning to the United States, she often longed for a way to access those rich textiles and beautiful sculptures, but found that very few African products made their way to the US. Guided by her passion, she began contacting sellers along the East African coast and encouraging them to export their wares. Today, she employs fair-trade policies to stock stores throughout the country, supporting artisans living in Kenya, Tanzania, the Sudan, Uganda, South Africa, Mozambique, Mali, Senegal, and Ethiopia.
With more than one million book titles to choose from, Barnes & Noble stocks one of the retail world's largest selections of bound pages, along with a huge assortment of educational toys and games. Keep sprightly scribes from using walls, furniture, and siblings as writing surfaces with the help of LeapFrog’s Scribble & Write ($24.95 online), or indulge kids’ natural passions for outer space and solid detective work with a LEGO Space Police Smash ’n’ Grab set ($19.95 online).
Colorful strings of sparkling beads, heaps of yarn, and rows of scrapbook paper adorn Ben Franklin Crafts and Frame Shop. The sprawling, dazzlingly store, which brims with supplies, serves the local area by providing friendly, knowledgable assistance when guests have general questions or need specific answers for home projects. Their full-service frame shop can help preserve memories and memorabilia with custom framing jobs. And classes are offered throughout the month, ranging from card-making tips and tricks to learning to make beautiful handcrafted jewelry.
Skip's Records & CD World's knowledgeable staff of discography aficionados guides musical interests through a 9,000-square-foot store housing more than 70,000 titles. Dig through well-organized shelves groaning under the weight of more than 4,000 DVDs, 15,000 records, and 18,000 pre-owned CDs priced as low as a few bucks a piece, and peruse the 'new arrivals' section for fresh pre-played media. A locally owned business since 1988, Skip's boasts a sizeable selection of hometown artists, and frequently hosts in-store performances on their custom-built in-house stage and PA system.
Glass doors line two lofted floors at The Lesson Factory's headquarters, barely able to contain the harmonies held within. In training rooms throughout the facility, instructors—some with degrees as high as the graduate level—guide aspiring musicians of all ages toward their music-making goals with programs geared to individualized learning. Students choose from rock and classical instruments, learning how to form chords on a guitar, keep steady rhythms on drums, or nobly play violin on a sinking boat. Thanks to a steady schedule of blues jams for adults and recitals for kids, all budding musicians get the chance to show off their skills to an audience on a regular basis.